Packers football and its history means a lot to the people of Wisconsin, maybe even a little too much. I understand that, because I'm from there.
And it's arguable no player meant more in that state than Brett Favre.
The last few years have been awkward. Favre going to the Vikings wasn't unforgivable to Packers fans, although it was pretty close. If you're not from the Midwest, you really can't understand how personal the Bears-Packers-Vikings rivalry is.
But he was still Brett Favre, the player who saved the franchise from decades of losing and embarrassment to finally bring a Super Bowl back to Green Bay. Everyone knew at some point the ice would thaw and he'd come back to be honored, but the big step was Favre expressing that he wanted that. And Packers fans probably wanted some sign that Favre wanted to return and be cheered as much as they wanted him back.
Well, finally Favre is starting to show that it would mean plenty for him to come back to Lambeau Field, as the good guy this time.
In an interview with WGR 550 AM in Buffalo (and relayed by the Green Bay Press-Gazette), Favre said "I was at fault" for the messy breakup between himself and the team, and more importantly, he discussed returning to Green Bay in very positive terms.
“I don't know of any player who would not want that to happen. I'm honored just by the thought,” Favre said. “Obviously there was, if you want to call it, 'bad blood' or whatever, I just think that people started picking sides and really I'm over that and have been over it. Mark Murphy and I have talked on numerous occasions. I never expected them to do anything. I'm not one to sit here and say I think they need to do this, do that. They have a very good ball team and that's their primary focus and it should have always been, which it has.
“As time goes, it heals a lot of things. I know for me as I've gotten further and further removed from the game, I think about for example the statistics and things of that nature, which I don't know any player where that didn't matter some. It matters a whole lot less now. So the things that transpired that led to us 'breaking up' if you will, to me, are over and done with.
"When will that happen? I don't think either side is trying to push the issue. I think Mark Murphy – and Mark really came in the last few weeks of my career in Green Bay – so he kind of came into a hornet's nest if you will. But he's been extremely great in trying to make this work. In our discussions, it will happen. We just don’t want it – we’re going to do it here. I think both sides are genuine. I know they are. And that's the way it has to come across because that's the way it should be. We don't want to go out there waving to the crowd with our backs to each other. And I don't think that's going to happen. Aaron has said some very nice things. He and I have a good relationship. I had a chance to present an award with him at the Super Bowl and that was for real. It wasn't for show. And so I think everything will be fine."
Nationally Favre might still be a punchline for the never-ending waffling he did on retirement, but in Green Bay he's still an icon, and I assume most fans want to welcome him back. This is a place that still celebrates a coach from 50 years ago. History is important there. Booing Favre when he came back with the Vikings couldn't have been the most pleasant experience for anyone.
Now it's pretty apparent Favre wants to return, too. It took a while for him to say that publicly. For a while it looked like the hard feelings over his departure might last long enough to still be lingering when Favre went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That doesn't appear to be the case anymore.
Favre will come back to get his number retired, and that will be a fitting ending. Then in Green Bay he won't be the guy who couldn't decide if he was retired, or even a Viking. He'll be a Packer again. That will mean a lot to the people there.